Well I have finally sat down to write the review of the first ‘Farm Forage Dinner’. To the credit of my dear friends I can still taste the mouth watering organic pork with native seasonings and the flavour and the aroma of the local wines we enjoyed on that fine Sunday afternoon in late October with more than sixty other locals at the Raven Creek Farm. But I get ahead of myself.
I first heard of this ‘Farm Forage Dinner’ idea from Richard and Sarah Bolus in mid 2012, while working with Richard on local sustainable food ideas for the Future Proofing Geelong Committee. The idea was well received but it was more than a year later that the couple were able to coordinate the first event.
I received an invite from both Farm Forage Dinners and Ravens Creek Farm, a local Moriac farm run by Hayden and Jasmine Findlay, while overseas attending the ‘EcoCity 2013’ conference and ‘Feeding the 5000’ and immediately begged them hold me a couple of tickets. This first dinner was initially by invite only with seating for 60 odd so was going to sell out quickly amongst friends and industry colleagues.
Hayden was one of four speakers at our Fair Food Forum in August, who spoke of his sustainable farm in Moriac and his role as a grass farmer. The head chef for the day was another speaker from this event – Amanda Garner. Amanda is a well-known local chef, board member of the Australian Native Food Industry Ltd (ANFIL) and recently received a fellowship to research native food industries globally to help build the Australian industry. She is also a partner in catering company, Sorella Foods in Birregurra along with her three sisters.
The dinner would be a locally sourced low/chemical-free Sunday dinner that would be complimented by local wines, lawn games and a tour of the sustainable farm. To my delight the guests consisted of locals with a passion for local farming and sustainable living including many colleagues and friends.
Our afternoon started at noon with a selection of starters and the first of the locally grown and produced wines from Brown Magpie Wines, the Pinot Gris 2011. This boutique local vineyard, winery and cellar door is new to me and has amazing wines. Blessed with fine weather guests mingled and chatted in the café and strolled through the berry and seasonal vegetable gardens. Once settled in we took a short walk to the cattle and pig areas where Hayden explained the methods used to keep his soil moist, weeds low and cattle happily feed on the sweetest grass without the use of chemicals or fertilisers.
Under the pine trees happily sleeping were a number of pigs, which were happy enough to be patted while Hayden talked about the trials under way on the farm.
Having awakened our appetite we strolled back to the café to be served locally produced La Madre sourdough breads with native salt bush dukka and freshly tinned locally grown and produced olive oil. A little conversation and more delicious Brown Magpie wines and then the main was served. Sunday roast with organic beef and pork direct form Ravens Creek alongside a multitude of locally grown vegetables, seasoned with native spices: mouth watering. I have to admit I didn’t make it to Hayden’s Prime Devon beef (many did); as the locally sourced root vegetables and pork kept me going and were so delicious I went for a second helping complimented by crackling.
It was a slow roasted ‘Ravens Creek’ Pork encrusted with brown sugar, tarragon, dijon mustard and lemon. Broad beans, peas and Meredith goat’s cheese topped with oven-roasted cherry tomatoes with mint vinaigrette along with herb salad with riberries and lemon myrtle vinaigrette complimented the meats.
Now completely full, we took another stroll through the berry yard, soon ready to be picked, while others played lawn bowls and quoits on the grass.
This allowed just enough time to find a little more room desert was served with a selection of Ravens Creek Summer Puddings, Chocolate Pepperberry pudding and crispy pastry shells with vanilla cream patisserie topped with poached farm rhubarb (yes I tried them all). Apologies I was too busy eating to take a photo. Thankfully throughout all this our hosts entertained us with further information on the local foods and wines. Chopping boards laden with local cheeses, grapes, biscuits and quince paste accompanied by a desert wine completed the beautiful farm dinner. Oh my! There was no dinner that night.
It was an extremely decadent and long dinner spent talking with like-minded people, learning about local foods, sustainable farming methods and tasting local food and wine of the region. Book me in for the next one. Until then I am on the list for the Brown Magpie wines, organic beef and pork packs direct from Raven Creek Farm.
I am looking forward to visiting the Ravens Creek Farm cafe opening November 21st to experience the delights of picking my own summer berries and purchasing locally produced foods from Moriac and the region, followed by a visit to Brown Magpies cellar door.
Thanks go to Forage Farm Dinners for dreaming up these events, Raven Creek Farm for hosting the dinner and Amanda Garner of Sorella Foods for upping the game in how to serve up the best of locally farmed, foraged and locally produced delicious foods.
By the way, the word out is that Richard and Sarah are now talking with other local farmers and producers about the next couple of dinners for the region. Don’t miss out.
Suzette Jackson, November 2013